Takarabako Tea Farm: Organic Shimane Aged Black Tea 2016 Vintage from Yunomi. . .

The Takarabako Tea Farm in Shimane Prefecture has been experimenting with creating aged black teas, “vintages” specific to a year, and allowed to age under fixed low temperature storage conditions. For this specific tea – Takarabako Tea Farm: Organic Shimane Aged Black Tea 2016 Vintage – I have to say I was blown away by the quality and flavor!

Straight-up this is an AGED Black tea. Cultivar: Yabukita with the harvest being that of Spring, 2016 from the Oba Sorayama District, Matsue City, Shimane Prefecture region.

It’s Eco-farmer certified by Shimane Prefecture, has the Organic certification of JAS (Tea, Persimmon) for agriculture, processing and packing, Local GAP certification by Shimane Prefecture, and received the Excellence Award for the 19th Japan Environment Preservation Agriculture Promotion Competition. IMPRESSIVE, eh!?

The tea brews up a red/orange/brown color while the aroma shines with maltiness and a hint of cinnamon and plum. It’s smooth cuppa with the aftertaste of honey or agave!

This is a very special tea. I would share it with those I know would appreciate it. I can’t wait to see what other lovely leaves come from this region and farm!

 


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Black
Where to Buy:  Yunomi
Description

The Takarabako Tea Farm in Shimane Prefecture has been experimenting with creating aged black teas, “vintages” specific to a year, and allowed to age under fixed low temperature storage conditions.

  • Ingredients: Black tea
  • Cultivar: Yabukita
  • Harvest: Spring, 2016
  • Region: Oba Sorayama District, Matsue City, Shimane Prefecture

 

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Premium Keemun Hao Ya from Teavivre . . . .

Tea heads are often asked if they have a “desert island list” of (usually) ten teas that they would want to have with them if they were stranded on a desert island. The thought of just ten teas makes them shudder, but after shaking off the horror they generally get to work thinking about what would be on that list. How to choose when there are so many we love?

I can tell you right now that “a good Keemun” would be the first thing on that list for me.

Keemun is a highly variable tea type. The word itself is a variation on Qimen, which is the name of the area in which it is grown. As with most teas, there are many grades available. Interestingly, many people have a great love for particular grades and not necessarily the highest and most expensive ones.

Teavivre sells many grades of Keemun tea and they all have their fans. Some of the very highest grades are fragrant and redolent with aromas of wine and chocolate. They can be fruity and even a bit floral. These tend to be lighter and more delicate, with less smoke. Most Keemun teas recommend steeping at lower temperatures and shorter times than other black teas.

While I love the top tier Keemun teas for afternoon tea or evening treat, I want a good Hao Ya with my breakfast, especially if there is maple syrup or something sweet on the table. This one is a premium Hao Ya – fancier than a Hao Ya B or an unnamed English Breakfast, it has the strong aroma and layers of flavor I love.

A good Keemun is raspy, by which I mean that it drags across my tongue with presence, leaving a dry, cocoa-y taste. I don’t mean drying like the astringency of a high grown Ceylon. I wouldn’t really define it as briskness, either. It is deeper and darker, far more enjoyable and impressive to me. There is a hint of smoke, a bit of cocoa, even a little malt in this Premium Grade tea, with the barest floral undertones.

It resteeps well, and I can get my large breakfast cup filled with just one teaspoon of leaf steeped twice, and since it only steeps for a short time, my food doesn’t get cold while I make my tea.

There are a lot of good Keemuns at Teavivre. For me, this is one of the best. If you are in America and this review has made you impatient to get some, go to their website, choose “Teas in the US Warehouse” and choose the zip bag. It will get to you much, much quicker! You can always order the tin later…and you will probably want to. Just be sure you order your refill in plenty of time so you don’t run out!


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Black
Where to Buy:  Teavivre
Description

Rated as the best of Chinese black teas, Keemun is an absolute delight to drink. TeaVivre’s premium Keemun Hao Ya represents the highest quality of this tea generally available to the public, and has a taste, aroma, and appearance that more than justify its reputation as one of the best black teas in the world. Handmade in Keemun’s birthplace of Qimen, this tea is truly astounding.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Keemun Chinese Black Tea from The Tea Spot

I love the discovery of new tea flavors, finding their nuances, comparing and contrasting from a baseline. I started educating myself on tea with subscription boxes, and still have a soft spot for them. Looks like Tea Spot will be my next choice. They offer a monthly subscription box for $16 for about an ounce worth of 5-6 teas and also a quarterly loose leaf club at $45 for 3+ teas of one chosen style, in larger portions obviously. This selection seems to be from the former.

The dry Keemun smells very gentle, a bit like the coriander in my cupboard. There are uniformly tight, straight, leaves, appearing medium on the spectrum of browns. I see some broken bits in wet leaves and a tamarind color brew. It smells subtly sweet, and reminds me of cherries – cheerful but with a slightly tart finish.  1 heaping tsp per 8 oz from the brewing instructions, does not make a strong tea, which some people prefer. I’m not the type to drink this flavor straight, because tannins and I are frenemies.  I think it is It may leave a slight orange taste in my mouth but, this tea is still excellent at its job of caffeinating me!

Just like the Beastie Boys, I like my Sugar with [Keemun] and cream, too sweet to be sour, too nice to be mean.

 


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Black
Where to Buy: The Tea Spot
Description:

A splendor of toasty flavor and aroma! The most refined and perhaps the most well-known of Chinese black teas, this Keemun is handpicked in Anhui Province. This tea has an indescribable flavor, with the most delicate hints of smoky pine, orchid, crushed apple and a rich, sweet body.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

China Cangyuan Yunnan Organic Black Tea from Simpson & Vail. . . .

China Cangyuan Yunnan Organic Black Tea from Simpson & Vail…oh…how I adore, thee!

I’m not going to hide it! I’ll shout it from the rooftops, folks! I think this is a fantastic loose leaf wonder!

It’s been said time and time again that Yunnan teas are particularly delightful as breakfast or early afternoon teas. I would have to agree! When I first experienced this lovely cup it was bright and early in the morning and it surely slapped my butt and got me moving and ready to face my day!

This tea is described as an exquisite organic tea that is grown in Cangyuan county which is a remote location in western Yunnan. To give you a visual of this loose leaf is has long black, tippy leaves ‘interspersed with ample golden buds’ (S&V’s phrase – not mine – but I couldn’t think of a better way to put it). This lovely tea brews to an amber colored cup with the slight aroma of pipe tobacco and a smooth, creamy, slightly sweet full-bodied taste. That pipe tobacco aroma reminds me of my grandfather and brings back some of memorable quirks that I will NEVER forget!

This is more than a cup of tea for me. It’s flashes and flickers of my grandfather with his smirky grin, his joking around, his strut, his overall being. It’s funny what aromas trigger, isn’t it?

Thanks S&V for this trip down memory lane – and a terrific cup of tea – to boot!

 


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Black
Where to Buy:  Simpson and Vail
Description

Yunnan, known as the birthplace of tea, is a province in southwestern China that borders Vietnam, Burma, and Laos. Yunnan translates literally to “south of the clouds”. Its diverse landscape offers everything from tropical rainforests to mountainous terrain and is home to a wide variety of plant species. The Yunnan region focuses heavily on agricultural production.

Yunnan teas are particularly delightful as breakfast or early afternoon teas.

This exquisite organic tea is grown in Cangyuan county, a remote location in western Yunnan. It is comprised of long black and tippy leaves interspersed with ample golden buds. It brews to an amber colored cup with the slight aroma of pipe tobacco and a smooth, creamy, slightly sweet full-bodied taste.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Thoughts on Himalayan Bliss Estate, Nepal, First Flush 2017 / Yatra Tea

Not to be confused with a Darjeeling.

Many of the same attributes found in a Darjeeling can also be found in this tea. (Starting to feel like Darjeeling should be a tea type like black, green, etc). Fresh in both smell and taste.

This interesting clonal tea is apparently surrounded by other Darjeeling estates and while this doesn’t automatically make it better for processing it as a Darjeeling it does help in developing the flavors.

Just like the mountainous regions of Taiwan make amazing oolongs.

Anyway, this tea is very refreshing. As it’s cooled I find myself enjoying it more. It doesn’t have quite a muscatel flavor like many Darjeelings do but it has that fresh aftertaste.

This tea is honestly hard to describe because it really doesn’t have any descriptors on the flavor wheel. Try it yourself, you’ll see what I mean.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: Yatra Tea Company
Description:

2.5 gms (approx. 1 tsp) per 6 oz of filtered water, steep for 3-4 mins at 203 F/95 C.

Vary leaf quantity, brewing time, and temperature per individual preferences.

Champagne gold color, with a sweet, fragrant aroma, and clean, refreshing taste.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!